Introduction: Secret Rotten Strawberry Safe

About: Where there's a will, there's a way! Never give up, never give in...BE the good you want to see in the world. :)

This safe looks like a rotten container of strawberries left at the back of your fridge...but under the mold, it has a big secret -- a stash of cash!!


To make this awesome safe you will need:

  • 1 container of strawberries (I used strawberries because it seems to be something that often goes bad in our fridge -- but feel free to use produce of any kind, so it's the least conspicuous)
  • 2 packs JB Weld Clear Weld Epoxy (4.6 oz containers)
  • 1 pack of cotton balls
  • 1 pack of dark blue/green moss
  • OPTIONAL: 1 pack of "natural" colored moss
  • Vegetable Oil Cooking Spray
  • 1 Can Clear Matte Acrylic Sealer
  • 1 - 2oz container Matte Red Acrylic Paint (I used: Apple Barrel "Red Apple")
  • 1 - 2oz container Matte Black Acrylic Paint (I used: Apple Barrel "Black")
  • OPTIONAL: 1 - 2oz container Matte Green Acrylic Paint (I used: Apple Barrel "Arbor Green")
  • OPTIONAL: 1 - 2oz container Matte Teal Acrylic Paint (I used: Apple Barrel "Tuscan Teal")
  • 1 disposable container for mixing the epoxy
  • 1 ramekin (or similar container)
  • 1 small container that fits inside ramekin (for making the cash cavity)
  • Large popsicle sticks (for mixing)
  • Rubber Latex Gloves
  • Extra Large Hot Glue sticks
  • 1 pack of "fine tip" and 1 pack of "angled" paintbrushes
  • E6000 Glue
  • Vaseline / Petroleum Jelly
  • A saucepan, not used for eating out of (or one you don't mind throwing away later)
  • Scissors
  • OPTIONAL (but recommended): A mask or ventilator mask
  • OPTIONAL: Goggles / Glasses / Eyewear

Step 1: Heat the Hot Glue

WARNING: Melting hot glue in bulk is EXTREMELY toxic (like melting plastic)! Be sure to open the windows, turn the fan on above the stove, and ventilate the area as best as possible. Additionally, MAKE SURE TO WEAR A MASK (and optionally, wear goggles) because the fumes from this will hurt your throat and eyes! (P.S. if you have a bird or similar small animal, please remove it to a safe room that will not encounter the fumes as they could kill the animal.)

  1. Heat a saucepan on Medium.
  2. Cut up the hot glue sticks with scissors into small pieces directly into the pot.
  3. Allow the glue to heat up until it is liquidy (about 5 minutes or less once the pan is heated fully). There is NO need to stir it, trust me, this makes a huge mess! And for some reason I thought I could use my plastic spatula to stir it and it ate it up. Use metal only!

Having never melted hot glue in bulk like this, I tried other approaches, but the one I'm sharing here worked the best.

Step 2: Create the Mold

Spray the ramekin well with cooking spray.

Fill up the ramekin with the melted hot glue (just enough to come up to the top of the strawberries without covering them fully).

Add the strawberries into the hot glue in random directions -- some with the leaves down, some on their side, and some sitting upright. Make random groups of strawberries (as noted below) as you repeat this process. I found that it didn't matter if the fruit was sprayed with cooking spray or not before putting it in the hot glue, as both ways (sprayed and not sprayed) proved equally difficult to remove from the molds later.

Make: 1 group of 3 strawberries that don't touch (to make 3 separate strawberries); 1 lone extra large strawberry (if possible); 1 group of 4-6 strawberries that all touch (for the base without the safe in it); and 1 group of 6-8 strawberries in two layers on top of each other (for the base with the safe in it).

P.S. This scenario is too real to us (having rotten produce in the fridge). We even had a rotten strawberry container even though we just bought it a few days ago! So, I took the liberty to also cast an actual rotten strawberry in a mold that way it's more realistic in the finished safe (it was the lone extra large one).

Step 3: Cool Down

Allow the hot glue to fully cool down through air drying (about 45 minutes, give or take depending on the size of your grouping and strawberries, etc and your climate, etc).

Putting the ramekins by an open window is ideal (if weather conditions are good). Also, you will need to put the ramekins on glass plates or hot pads as the underside will be very hot from the hot glue.

You will know the hot glue is fully cooled all the way down when the bottoms of the ramekins are cool to the touch, and the hot glue will be very white.

Don't worry about the bubbles. They don't affect the mold in any way.

Step 4: Pop Out the Molds

Use a metal spoon to push down and around the edges of the mold to help pop it out of the ramekins.

The last picture shows my approach to adding the hot glue OVER the already placed strawberries, which DID NOT WORK! It created tons of gaps and a huge mess! The best approach, of the ones I tried, was to pour in the hot glue first and then add the strawberries.

Step 5: Clean the Molds

Cut out the tops of the strawberries to access the "guts." Use your fingers and water to wash out the strawberries from the molds. When the cavities of the molds are mostly cleaned out, use soapy water to continue scraping out the little seeds (and such) that might be left behind. My strawberry tops got glued into the molds, so if yours does that, DO NOT WORRY! It's not necessary to try to remove those. Also be sure to dry the cavities completely before proceeding with the next step.

MAKE SURE WHEN YOU TAKE THE STRAWBERRIES OUT, YOU CUT A BIG ENOUGH SPACE IN THE TOP FOR EASILY REMOVING THE EPOXY LATER. This epoxy isn't flexible and neither is the hardened hot glue (well, it's a little flexible). So make sure to have a big enough hole either over the individual strawberries (if they are not touching), or over the top of the group of strawberries (if they are all touching).

By the way, these molds are SO detailed!!

Step 6: Lube It Up

NOTE: Make sure the cavities in the molds are completely dried before proceeding.

Use petroleum jelly on your finger to lube the insides of each strawberry cavity. Lube it up REALLY, REALLY good! You don't want any epoxy to stick to the molds!

Step 7: Fill It Up

OK... This process was STINKY!!!! The Part B "Hardener" was so nasty smelling, it smelled like rotten eggs plus rotten meat plus skunk! It was awful! You have been warned!

Follow the directions on the package to make the epoxy mix. You will basically add even parts of Part A and Part B (I used a little medicine cup to get even parts of both). Initially, I used the little nozzles to pour each Part from it's bottle, but because Part B stunk SO BAD, I ended up taking off the entire cap each time to make the filling up faster. Mix it in the disposable container with a large popsicle stick (the directions say for 1 minute).

NOTE 1: Be sure to use rubber latex gloves when mixing this and handling it.

NOTE 2: This epoxy sets up quickly -- in just 5 minutes! So be sure to only make enough for one mold at a time, otherwise the epoxy will harden before you use it.

Fill up each cavity of the molds to the tops. Allow to cool at room temperature for 1 hour.

Step 8: Pop Out the Epoxy Berries

This part takes quite a bit of effort! Not gonna lie. I had to use my son's help to open and push the mold up while I used a metal spoon to pop out each berry, or group of berries.

To get the petroleum jelly (etc) off of the berries, be sure to wash them with dish soap and water.

Step 9: Making the Safe

In one of the large groups of strawberries, be sure to add in the cavity for the cash to go. This approach keeps the safe part looking the most organic and natural (versus my original thought of using a container or a square box.

To accomplish this, lubricate the bottom and sides of the smaller container with petroleum jelly very, very well.

After filling up the ramekin halfway, add the strawberries to form a group. Then add a little more epoxy over the top of the berries, and press the smaller container down into the epoxy over the top of the berries. Add some weight into the container to keep it pressed down while the epoxy cures for 1 hour.

Remove it the same as before.

NOTE: Sometimes you will have to use a sharp knife to cut away the top of the mold to get the epoxy berries out. Do whatever you need to do (including cutting up the entire mold) to get out the epoxy.

Step 10: Plan It Out

Wash the strawberry container with hot soapy water. Dry it out completely.

Position the berries in the container to figure out how you want them to sit in the completed safe. Then take a picture of the positioning to recreate it after the pieces are painted.

Step 11: Inspiration & Prepare Some Mold

Find your inspiration pictures for the look of mold that you want to go with on the berries.

I found that cotton balls work great when pulled apart to get that white molded berries look. Prepare a few random groups of pulled apart cotton balls and set aside.

Step 12: Paint

NOTE: I originally painted the berries with mold in addition to adding the physical texturing, but I found this unnecessary as I went on, and eventually opted for just adding the physical texturing.

Make multiple shades of the red for variety and realism. I used the red plain as one color, a drop of black in the red as the medium color, and a little extra black in the red as the darkest color.

First, paint all the berries with the plain red color (per coat, I painted the bottom half first, then the top half, so I had somewhere to hold it). After that dries, add a coat of the medium red color over top. This gives it a great rotting strawberry color that's no long perfectly red.

Also, add in blotches of the darkest red (especially around places that would be indented or have the moldy areas). Be random, there is no rhyme or reason for color placement at this point.

Step 13: Adding Texture

I used a dry angled paintbrush to tap the bristles on the "skin" of the berries to make them have a more realistic rotten berry skin texture.

Step 14: OPTIONAL: Painting Mold

If you choose to additionally paint on the mold before adding the physical texturing, follow this basic style for good results:

  1. Use a fine tip paint brush to randomly place white blotches on the strawberries where you want the mold to be.
  2. Add in different variations and shades of green and teal (and mixes of the two) on top.
  3. Add as much or as little of the mold as you want (up to fully molded), but be careful -- it's easy to add too much unintentionally! So know when to quit.
  4. Don't forget to paint the bottoms with a mix of plain red and the medium red color.

Step 15: Add Physical Texturing

Use E6000 glue to apply the physical texturing.

I found that if you flip over a pulled-apart cotton ball piece, and add in the green moss (and optionally, natural colored moss) to the backside, it looks more realistic and moldy when flipped back over and glued down.

NOTE: Leave at least one strawberry fully un-molded for realism. But when putting it all together, add on the mold in a pattern -- in the way that mold would naturally travel.

Step 16: Cover It Up

My smaller container wasn't sitting in the ramekin perfectly level, so I had a little gap at the bottom that needed covering up so you can't see the money sticking out of it. Therefore, I used more mold to cover it up. This works great (adding mold) wherever you want to cover up noticeable seams, lines, gaps, etc.

Also, you can use a toothpick to apply the glue to only specific areas if you don't want giant globs.

Step 17: Glue & Spray

Using E6000 glue, glue down the base group of strawberries that doesn't have the safe in it. Try to position the two bases in such a way that when the base with the safe in it works around the glued-down base, it kind of locks into place. Be sure there's no view of the money when it's "locked" in place.

When happy with the final product, give the entire thing a spray of matte acrylic sealer to really seal in the paint job so it doesn't crack (or anything) later.

NOTE: Acrylic paint CAN crack when under 44 degrees F (7 degrees C), however this is more applicable to paint on paper, canvas, etc (where it could be rolled up, and thus crack) versus on a hard surface. But the acrylic sealer should help prevent this too.

Step 18: Stashing the Cash

Fold your money into a square shaped (you could probably fit four or five folded 20s, 50s, or 100s in the cavity of the safe).

Try to position it in such a way that it naturally sticks into the cavity by pushing up against the cavity walls on its own.

NOTE 1: You can see the money from the underside of the container. However, unless a robber not only goes through your fridge but also moves or opens the moldy strawberries, it won't be noticeable. If you prefer to put a little opaque something on the bottom side to avoid this, feel free. But since strawberries don't naturally come with a pad under them (like raspberries), I opted out of this option.

NOTE 2: If you want to add a little cover, or "door," over the bottom opening to add security to the cash inside, feel free!

Step 19: Store Your Safe

Add the safe to the back of your fridge with your normal food items in front of it. I would suggest putting it at eye level or below to avoid seeing the money from the underside (if you didn't add something under it).


Some of you may be thinking, "But surely it will get thrown away accidentally!" And though this is likely true with people who may visit your home that don't know about the secret safe (let everyone in your house know so it doesn't get trashed), you can also remedy this situation as follows...

Add a suction cup to the back or underside of the container to make it harder to remove from the fridge (to help remind you that it's NOT trash). OR you could even glue it down to the fridge's shelf (especially if the shelf pulls out and you aren't in a rental).

Step 20: See It in Action!

Here is a video of me using the safe.

NOTE: I did it one handed so it's clearly not as easy as using two hands. ;)

Plus, sorry about the vertical phone video. :(

I hope you enjoyed this crazy creation and that you make one of your own!


Secret Compartment Challenge

Second Prize in the
Secret Compartment Challenge